This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 2, 2011 - The prints in Lisa Bulawsky's "Four Chapters in the Present We Were" are as fragile, elusive and poetic as the memories they record. They were generated in response to interviews with older Americans, asked to recall their experiences of four historical events: World War II, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the Apollo 11 moon landing and the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
The interviews have been woven into a vocal track that fills COCA's Millstone Gallery, meandering across the terrain of American history, voices and memories bleeding into one another. It's striking to note what people remember: not the epicenter of an event, but the peripheral minutiae and fallout.
Bulawsky's prints pick up on those remembered details -- a wrinkled shirt, the price of gas, an ash cloud -- and visualize them gently, floating them in voids. The works, from her "Prosthetic Memories" series, mix a variety of media, including etching, monotype, collograph and drawing. Her approach thus mimics memory itself: processual, contingent, deriving from an absent source.
This is an extraordinarily accomplished, moving body of work.
Ivy Cooper, a professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is the Beacon art critic.